foodsmug recaps shillsmug

KERF Recaps: Reboot Edition, Posts 391-393

Kathy was paid to write Wednesday’s post by Oyster. I don’t know if I fully understand what that means, but, as far as I can tell, a group of bivalve mollusks has pooled their money to get people to read e-books. I’m guessing the rationale is that, the more people while away their hours reading, the less time they’ll have to eat oysters.

Okay, fine. Oyster is a $10/month program Kathy is allegedly using to do

lots of reading on last week’s beach vacation

She doesn’t know much about it beyond that:

Our enthusiastically fact-free heroine claims to have become

a huge fan of digital reading after buying a tablet while I was pregnant.

Which is funny, because when she was pregnant, she got a hold of Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, No Cry Sleep Solution, Bradley Method, Happiest Baby On The Block, Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children’s Vaccinations. After all that, she only ever ended up reading half of Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth, admitting in a post on her baby blog:

As much as I love the idea of reading, I wouldn’t call myself a reader. I find it kind of hard to sit still and focus for more than 20 minutes or so at a time. I’d much rather read a fiction book with a great plot, watch a documentary or listen to a pregnancy podcast than devote a few hours (days?) to reading a non-fiction book from cover to cover.

However, I also want to sponge it up with information before the baby comes, as I’ve heard that once he is here I won’t have time for reading! …. It was always hard in college to do the reading before attending the lectures…

By the next year, Kathy was all too glad to be done with her reading assignment, writing:

I was going through my Kindle app the other day (long time, no see!) and saw that I still had lots of books on baby sleep and breastfeeding. And then I realized I would never read them. How amazing that we are on the other side – success! So I deleted them with joy.

Several people have asked me for a recommended reading list, yet I always pause without much to say. The books I read were OK but they didn’t really help much. Other than the Happiest Baby On the Block’s soothing techniques, I didn’t find any of the books I read very helpful.

Of course, now that she’s being paid to write about the e-book subscription service provided by Lobster, Kathy is all about reading, for all the typical reasons — digital books don’t take up space, she can decide she wants a new one whenever she’s tired of the last one, and, her “favorite part,”

There are a ton of different genres to browse …. There are also HEALTH books, COOK books and CHILDREN’s books!!

By golly, Squid really does sound compelling! Apart from having your own diverse library of actual books you’ve read or are on your way to reading, going to the library and browsing the stacks, or knowing how to transport yourself to a store that sells books, finding one that you are or have been interested in, and completing a transaction/stuffing it in your latest StitchFix blouse and hauling ass before security arm-bars you, I can’t think of any other arrangement in the world that allows someone to enjoy fiction and also non-fiction the way Crab does.

Oh, well I guess there’s also something else that does exactly the same thing:

What Allison and Bernie fail to realize in all their hurry to make decent points and use punctuation is that Limpet has so much more than the library: ”view settings,” “suggestions,” and the ability to dim the screen “with just a single touch.” Besides, Kathy, describing herself as “a sucker for romance novels,” can’t be made to suffer with her local library’s single section of hot and heavy paperbacks when Cuttlefish offers such niche categories as

Love & Vampires
Love in the Wild West
Time Traveling Lovers
Around The World Romance
Valentine’s Day
Online Dating
Historical Romance
Supernatural Lovers (!!)
Sex in the City
Urban romance
Good & Bad Love Stories
and lots, lots more!

Kathy then includes an action shot of her perusing the collection of books about supernatural, time-traveling vampires who fall in love online:

Oh, no she doesn’t. She’s actually just posing, because no way is she actually reading or thinking about reading James Joyce’s The Dead, a story that doesn’t appear on the healthy reading list she’s now accumulated:

Life of Pi by Yann Martel {Gotta read the book before I can see the movie!}

Keeper by Kathi Appelt {About mermaids – perfect beach read}

The Motion of the Ocean by Janna Cawrse Esarey {a struggling couple lives on a sailboat and travels the world}

The Mighty Gastropolis of Portland by Karen Brooks {Sounds delish…!}

Ice Cream Social by Brad Edmondson {All about Ben & Jerry’s!}

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels and Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond {I’ve been waiting a while to read this!}

Guests on Earth by Lee Smith { <—she’s an author from my hometown who I have met!}

Wheat Belly by William Davis {I want to skim this and see what it’s all about}

Lip Service by MJ Rose {this was recommended in the seductive romance section!}

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo {my dear friend is going to be in this performance this fall and I would love to read it}

Beach Lane by Melissa de la Cruz {a light read set in the Hamptons!}

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood {one of my favorite authors, I bet this is good}

The Happy Herbivore Cookbook by Lindsay Nixon {I bet there are great recipes in here!}

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin {it’s been on my to-read list for a while}

To prove that there is actually a precedent for books being in front of Kathy until she looks at every word in them, from start to finish, Kathy includes her own recommended reading list —

The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell {We read this in by [sic] book club!}

The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman {one of my favorite books EVER!!!}

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb {I loved this! So real}

Little Bee by Chris Cleave {a really good but serious book!}

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier {great book, great movie}

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood {another favorite!}

— before asking for recommendations for other stuff she can read on the beach. Usually, I’d think that disingenuous, because she just finished her trip to the beach, but it’s only July. She probably has a dozen more beach vacations planned this year. Her commenters oblige, but she allows one raised-eyebrow remark to get through — if only so she can take a jab at those library-recommending bitches from upthread.

Thursday’s post is one of the dreadful lists of food Kathy’s eaten at some point in the last year, rephotographed even though they’re nearly all the same things she’s plopped in decorative bowls or on top of honey-drizzled salads since she started the horrible habit of corralling oats in her weekly prattle drive. Or, as she calls it:

Just a regular ole summer lately post here at the KERF Casa. I’ve been in and out of vacation, so one day I’m eating ice cream and potato chips for lunch and the next day I’m craving salad like it’s my job!

So, in your case, Kathy, out of grinding habit and a crushing sense of obligation?

What dumb things did Kathy ingest this week?

a sunbutter jar

Red White and Blue swirl with a side of hot tea.

sunbutter (a new jar!)

Yogurt + peach + Cheerios + blueberries + sunbutter

On the lunch front, I started the week with a hot dog!

If there’s a lunch front, illustrator Andy Council better send one of his tanks.

We had some Applegate Farms uncured dogs in our fridge that we grilled over the weekend and I had one leftover. Served with Turbana plantain chips, roasted carrot fries

and a little bit of fresh juice for more vegetables (red pepper, carrot and cuc!)

Thank you, Jess, for translating the logical question — What the hell did Kathy do to those poor carrots? — into the language of compliments Kathy understands:

Lunch at a friend’s house …. Salads are so much better when someone else makes them!!

Picnic lunch at King Family Vineyards’ polo match!

Couldn’t help but include your foot somehow, could you, Kathy?

couscous salad that keeps showing up everywhere – (I know I’m so behind on this post because of the beach!) 

Cook Smarts really knows how to make risotto well in the oven. It’s so hands off, and I love that.

And lastly, made burgers with Karen. Served on a Spinach Feta roll with a tossed caprese salad on the side. And some vino!

I miss the beach soooo much but I’m very much ready to get cookin’ again!

Bored by this Procession of the Nut Butters, a few of Kathy’s readers point out that mentions of anyone but Kathy doing anything but putting nut butter on fruit would be a nice way to keep them from falling asleep in front of the computer:

Yeah, guys. She’s not blogging about personal life. She keeps that shit on Instagram, where she can just take a selfie, hit a button from her phone, type three words, and not have to exhaust herself coming up with complete sentences or original thoughts:

It’s okay, Kathy. You clearly have better things to do than maintaining good relations with readers who expend energy and goodwill reaching out and attempting to relate with and be inspired by you:

Things like put fakery granola and plastic earrings in marked-up subscription boxes of mystery sadness that may or may not need to be refrigerated —

— shill for more sponsors* —

— and cook, remember? Eager to tie on her apron and get into the kitchen, Kathy’s next stop was to the logical place: a paid visit to a candy company, in Friday’s post, where she writes about spending two days at The Hershey Company in Pennsylvania as part of what she calls a “partnership.”

I am a food ambassador for Hershey this year, and couldn’t be more excited to celebrate one of the world’s greatest sources of antioxidants: chocolate! A piece of chocolate after a meal is my all-time favorite dessert (well, maybe it’s tied with buttercream :)). Plus Hershey makes my favorite brand of chocolate: Scharffen Berger! Annnnd I’m the biggest lover of s’mores!


She posts a photo of Toddler Carbz eating ice cream with mother-in-law Karen, and another showing herself reading beach-BFF Caitlin’s site on the iPad assigned to her seat at some airport restaurant whose breakfast she had to modify with berries she brought from home

{I didn’t touch the potatoes – not my taste.}

Here’s Kathy’s lap and a salad (from the airport Au Bon Pain), which she carried onto a shuttle to the Hershey Lodge, where she photographed it (and congratulated herself for having “customized” it) while waiting for her room. Her “dessert” was half of her check-in chocolate bar.

Her room not being ready meant Kathy got to flake out on exercise:

I got up to stretch my legs later in the afternoon by walking the grounds. I had plans for a run but since my room wasn’t ready, I thought a walk would be easier to go.

At some point, they finally let her into her room, so she changed clothing for “an early dinner” with Julie, who blogs at “Peanut Butter Fingers,” not that Kathy mentions that, or links to it until an end-of-post photo of herself, Julie, and the eight other bloggers Hershey paid to come out and say nice things about palm oil sourcing.

She had salad, “amazzzing crab cakes,” and “whipped potatoes” with her fellow bloggers:

We sipped wine and enjoyed a wonderful dinner over good conversation, proving how small the world is by making connections with our tablemates with Hillsborough, Charlottesville, and Ocala.

After a trip to a company museum —

“Kids, it’s time you learned the truth,” said Milton Hershey, his voice cracking. “I’m not your real dad.”

— they had “a special single-origin chocolate tasting,” where Kathy ranked the world’s chocolates based on how “slightly sour,” “a hint sour,” “fudgy,” “super sweet,” “floral,” and “butterscotchy” they were.

Tastings of any kind – wine, cheese, chocolate – are my favorite way to enjoy food. You appreciate the flavor so much more when you have a small amount to savor.

After drinking six shots of chocolate, Kathy describes herself as being

full of liquid bliss, and Julie and I watched The Bachelorette before bed.

The next morning, Kathy donned her ikura-colored trousers and olid Toms and met back up with her nutbutter-named friend

for a day packed with confections.

They made their own chocolate bars —

Mine are covered with toffee, nuts and sea salt and a mix of dark and milk chocolate.

— then made their own caramel:

I went with sea salt (obviously!) and almonds.

Then, they did a test where everyone tasted brightly colored gelatin, which totally tricked Kathy:

We were asked to taste each gelatin and guess the flavor. I was SURE the green one was lime, the yellow lemon, the orange orange and the red cherry. But I only got 1 of the 4 right!

Kathy’s ego recovered during the next activity, where they ate cake, put blue dye on their tongues and counted the tastebuds to see who among them was a “supertaster,” which is a way of describing people who have more tastebuds and are generally pickier about the taste of coffee and broccoli and stuff.

Kathy, though, must have just heard the “super” part of it and, even though she had just failed an actual taste test, decided that she had just conquered the foodie version of the Danger Room at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

High on chocolate cake and conflating her ability to have a bud-covered tongue with the unrelated training of Hershey’s hired experts, Kathy crows:

Hershey has quite a few staff members who are experts at taste testing. They go through rigorous training to be able to determine if the products are consistent and up to high company standards. We touched our tongues with blue dye and the number of visible taste buds indicated how good our tongues were at taste. Apparently I was the only super taster in the bunch! I have always suspected I am a super taster based on how keen my sense of smell and recognition is. Guess I was sort of right!

Kathy plays off the silliness of the activities by describing it as

exploring the Hershey technical center …. such a blast for me because there was a lot of overlap between our program and the work I did in food science during my courses as a Registered Dietitian. We covered things like sugar crystallization and the Maillard reaction along with the triangle test and different ways to measure sensory evaluation.

After a “lovely” buffet lunch of salad, vegetables, rolls, and salmon, a panel of Hershey’s flacks pitched the bloggers on

The Hershey Company’s efforts towards sustainability, responsibility, ingredient sourcing, quality assurance, innovation and product development.

Questions were asked…

Looks like Kathy’s question was either “Can you think of a way I can justify drinking a Diet Coke like these other people?” “What’s wrong with the guy to my left who’s playing Farmville instead of listening to me talk?” or — if the girl in green is offering an answer — “How much integrity do I have left after selling out to Hershey?”

Kathy then offers up a stirring defense of her corporate lords. They use non-powdered milk that doesn’t come from more than 100 miles away! They want their cacao and palm oil to be certified sustainable…. in six years! The plant that makes those nasty (hugely unpopular opinion, I know) little Reese’s things doesn’t throw shit in landfills! They give vitamins and peanut butter paste to children in Ghana!

People are quick to assume that large companies are only out to make money, but Hershey truly is taking steps towards improvement and responsibility. The milk that is supplied to their Hershey plant comes from local farms within 100 miles of Hershey, PA and they are the last chocolate company in the US to use real fluid milk in their chocolate (most of the other companies use dried milk). Bravo to that! Moreover, they are working to have 100% of their cacao sustainability certified by third parties by 2020 and responsible and sustainable palm oil tracing as well. The Reese’s plant has a zero-waste-to-landfill program, and the company works with the philanthropic Project Peanut Butter. Good stuff!

The fact that Kathy writes about Hershey’s slow drag towards having cacao “sustainably certified” (which, I guess, means that the third-party auditors are grass-fed or something) indicates that she has no fucking clue that there’s any kind of criticism of Hershey beyond people who want it to act, I don’t know, like some kind of 5K-sponsoring, recycling cake shop, and that the company is, well, involved in stuff like this, via Forbes:

….some 400 foreign students who thought they were signing on for an enjoyable summer of work experience and a healthy exposure to American culture …. staged a series of protests starting August 17, [2011] claiming that they had been toiling on fast-moving assembly lines, packing and lifting 50-lb. boxes of Reese’s and other sweets, sometimes on the overnight shift starting at 11 p.m.. They also said their wages [$8/hour] were so low, they weren’t earning enough to pay back their expenses.

And only really agreed to clean up its cocoa-sourcing after a video by the International Labor Rights Forum (and accompanying social media shitstorm) protesting Hershey’s use of African child labor was set to be screened on a Jumbotron right outside the Superbowl in 2012, with accompanying excoriations from the forum’s executive director, Judy Gearhart:

“In West Africa, where Hershey’s sources much of its cocoa, over 200,000 children are forced to harvest cocoa beans every year …. Hershey has no policies in place to purchase cocoa that has been produced without the use of child labor, and the company has consistently refused to provide public information about its cocoa sources.”

There’s also the matter of a 2012 lawsuit filed by shareholders, prompted in part by

….a 2011 study by completed Tulane University Law School through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor that found a majority of cocoa farmers and related suppliers in Ghana and the Ivory Coast employing children are placing them in hazardous illegal work conditions. That same year, the complaint says, Hershey’s Corporate Social Responsibility Report included Ghana and the Ivory Coast as “major sourcing countries.” 

Because Hershey had signed an agreement in 2001 promising to institute standards that would have prevented the use of child labor by 2005 but, seven years later, were still promising that their cocoa wouldn’t be fully “grown under the auspices of independent auditors according to international labor, environmental and farming standards” until 2020, they were probably still using child labor, the lawsuit alleged. A judge dismissed the case in 2013 after Hershey refused to allow shareholders to inspect company records that could have proved or disproved the allegations, but that ruling has since been overturned, meaning those records might have to be coughed up. The Bloomberg article goes on:

Common children’s tasks on cocoa farms are filling plastic bags for nurseries, breaking up pods and moving plants, according to the Fair Labor Association.

Carrying heavy loads is one of the worst forms of child labor, and using machetes and knives to break pods is hazardous, said the association, a workers’ advocacy group, citing non-government organizations in Ivory Coast. About 89 percent of Ivory Coast children were involved in growing cocoa, according to a 2008 government survey.

Strange — I thought super tasters were supposed to be extra sensitive to bitterness.

Kathy ended her trip with rides and the gift shop at Hershey’s Chocolate World, 

had a wonderful time immersing myself in chocolate (literally because the shampoo and soap there was cocoa scented!)

and says Toddler Carbz really dug the presents she brought home for him. 

To end on a lighter note, No Coupon For You noticed a write-up about Kathy in this, in which — as is the case in her Quarterly profile, she’s still using a four-year-old headshot. 

Maybe she keeps her disc of these in the freezer of cakes past. I’m sure it has nothing to do with “goal weights” and “vanity pounds.”

* Even if her new sponsors are in competition with her others, as Stonyfield (owned by Dannon) is with Yoplait (owned by General Mills, sponsor of Kathy’s May, 2013 Tour de Cheerios in Minneapolis). Renowned author and public health nutritionist Marion Nestle has written and blogged about this very issue at her site, Food Politics:

Maybe Kathy should add some of Nestle’s books to her reading list. “What to Eat” isn’t offered through the Anchovy service, but — hey — there are two copies available at the library that’s literally six tenths of a mile from her house.